For many, a first apartment is the first sign that one has reached that elusive and covetable life milestone: adulthood. Still, although it may come with some of the common hallmarks of being a grown up—utility bills, an absence of parental figures, the constant fear that you will not be able to pay your rent—it can be difficult to make your first apartment feel like a real home. Fear not—where there is a will, there is a way—and today we’ve got 5. Stick to these tips for acing your first space and you’ll be on your way to #adulting like a, well, adult. Tell us your go-to hacks for making your apartment feel like a home in the comments!

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west elm - 5 First Apartment Hacks

1. PLANTS. Lots of ’em.

Finding a cheap apartment with outdoor space is like finding a needle in a haystack. Finding a cheap apartment with a view is only slightly easier. If your space’s lack of nature is making you feel like you live in a dystopian YA novel, get some plants STAT. Shop planters and terrariums here.

west elm - 5 First Apartment Hacks

2. Make—and hang—some art.

Those posters you hung on your dorm wall with duct tape? Those were for your former self. Your new adult self with your new adult first apartment? Your new self wants art. Preferably in some nice new frames. Because nothing says grown-up-and-totally-keeping-it-together like a gallery wall. (And, because you are on a budget, take a page from our stylist’s book and make some DIY art with construction paper!)

west elm - 5 First Apartment Hacks

3. Proper dinnerware makes a world of difference.

As a young adult, takeout is a way of life. That doesn’t mean you need to accept sitting on your couch, eating Thai food with a plastic fork from a soggy cardboard box. You might not have the time—or the kitchen—to prepare a home-cooked meal, but you can definitely go one step further towards making it feel like you do. Say no to the plastic cutlery (it’s bad for the environment, anyway!) and invest in some dinnerware that will look much better and last much longer.

west elm - 5 First Apartment Hacks

4. Two uses is better than one. Think double-duty.

Short on space? Invest in furniture that is multi-functional. A sofa that turns into a bed, a coffee table that can double as a desk.

west elm - 5 First Apartment Hacks

5. Accept that things won’t be perfect. But why would you want them to be?

Having a first apartment is an adventure—and it should be treated as such. Your neighbors will make noise, things will break, your friends will ask to crash with you so much that it will seem like they’re your roommates. The best thing you can do in all of these situations? Roll with it. Embrace it. Maybe get renter’s insurance, just in case.

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